Our Schools First has re-organized as a non-partisan, pro-education action committee. Here’s why.
A new beginning for OS1
When our referendum committee was founded as Mooresville & Iredell & Mitchell Schools First, the only issue we could legally address as an organization was the November 2014 school bond referendum.
Flash forward to January 2016, when a forum for Republican county commissioner candidates sparked important questions about the 2014 bond referendum and supporting public education funding for our county schools. We were immediately concerned to hear two county commissioner candidates call the 2014 referendum “a huge mistake” and an example of “irresponsible spending.”
That’s why we’ve made the move this month to establish Our Schools First as a political action committee. This move means we can now put our support behind candidates who actively demonstrate support for our schools–and tell you about candidates who don’t.
We are a group of volunteers — Republicans, Independents, Democrats, but also moms, dads, Iredell natives, newcomers, business leaders, civic leaders, even ministers. Some of us are young, while others are young in spirit. But all of us agree that investment in our community schools is integral to building strong communities, the likes of which will bring economic growth, development, and much-needed jobs to our area.
To help formalize the process of comparing candidates, we’ve sent every person who has filed for to run for county commissioner and I-SS Board of Education a questionnaire focusing on public education. We’ll be sharing those results soon–something we couldn’t have done as a referendum committee.
Addressing last week’s BOE inquiry
Last week, Iredell GOP Chairman Matt McCall filed a formal complaint with the Iredell Board of Elections about OS1’s activities as a referendum committee. In part, McCall’s complaint reflected a misunderstanding of our organization–he wasn’t yet aware of our reorganization as an action committee, which fully covers some of the activities we’ve undertaken in recent days.
McCall’s inquiry pointed to a discrepancy in our former referendum committee’s books. As you may know, our founding treasurer for Mooresville & Iredell & Mitchell Schools First, Frank Rader, passed away unexpectedly in 2015. It was a devastating loss for our team, and it unfortunately complicated our efforts to reconcile all of our financial filings from the 2014 referendum.
We have worked hand-in-hand with the local and state board of elections to correct and amend any incorrect data, and we pledge to fully address any errors we might have committed.
McCall’s concern? Or a political maneuver?
What troubles our group most, however, is that Chairman McCall’s complaint seems motivated more by a political agenda than a concern for accuracy.
As our local Republican leader, McCall has frequently and publicly complained about the bond referendum, leaving little doubt that he does not support its constituent projects. After filing his complaint against OS1, McCall immediately contacted local media organizations–a clear political maneuver.
Leading the way forward
The 2014 election results proved to be a big win for our schools–and the candidates who supported public education. Overnight, our county’s leadership changed as candidates who supported the bond easily won their elections, proving that public education was an important issue to many voters in our area. Those results prove that voters who care about education make a difference at the polls.
Now, as we navigate the March 2016 primary and November 2016 general elections, we will continue working to make sure our local candidates understand the importance of supporting our schools–and informing voters about which candidates are at the top of the pack when it comes to education.
We can’t do this without you. In the coming weeks, look for how you can become involved in electing pro-education candidates whose support will protect and grow our community schools. If you haven’t already, please join our mailing list–you’ll hear from us once a week on average, and we promise never to share your contact information.